Countdown to Bliss

Karen Fragala and Marc Smith

Met: 1997 Engaged: November 2004 Projected Wedding Date: June 2005

Get out the Dramamine! Karen Fragala, 33, an associate editor at Newsweek, is marrying Marc Smith, 36, a.k.a. D.J. Emskee, at the Most Holy Redeemer Catholic church in the East Village, with a party to follow on a boat.

Mr. Smith was working as a security guard for HMV on the Upper East Side when he first began watching Ms. Fragala, then working as the store’s D.J., over the in-store video-monitoring system. “I know that it’s kind of a freaky thing to do,” he said, “but I was shy around really beautiful women.” And Ms. Fragala was indeed beautiful, with “gorgeous big brown eyes,” he said, dark hair, and “a smile that can control an entire room from afar.”

After a short time playing Peeping Tom, Mr. Smith worked up the nerve to ask Ms. Fragala on a date. She flatly refused.

“I think you’re a player,” she said.

“Me? I’m a pussycat,” Mr. Smith stammered.

“Which is exactly what a player would say,” Ms. Fragala pointed out to the Love Beat, quite rightly.

Eventually, Mr. Smith persuaded her to join him for breakfast at a nearby diner. He was sweating profusely. “I felt incredibly nervous, because she was so beautiful,” he said. Luckily, Ms. Fragala was quickly warming up as well. “I began to be able to really tell just how sweet and kind he was,” she said.

She allowed him to take her to L.A. Confidential-“I didn’t watch the movie,” Mr. Smith said-and subsequently to pay calls to her apartment on the Lower East Side (he lived in Teaneck, N.J.), where she’d cook. “He’s cuddly and compassionate and kind,” she said. “I loved him for it almost immediately.” And he was no slouch in the looks department either: a lanky 6-foot-2, with almond-shaped brown eyes and long, black dreadlocks.

But Mr. Smith freaked out when Ms. Fragala told him how much she dug him. “I had a very bad experience with love before Karen,” he said. “But over a long period of time, she showed me that she was special. I just needed to figure it out and learn that I wanted to reciprocate.”

A few years later, he moved into her apartment. “He didn’t tell me about the security-camera thing until we had been dating for about three years,” Ms. Fragala said. “He thought it would freak me out-but I think it’s romantic!” They both worked odd jobs to get to their present positions (Mr. Smith spins regularly at the Coffee Shop and Williamsburg’s Black Betty). But neither felt like rushing to the altar. “I told her from the beginning that I didn’t believe in stuff like marriage,” he said. “I think a lot of people just follow what everyone else is doing rather than thinking about what’s best for them. Trying to follow a blueprint can get you in trouble.”

And Ms. Fragala is certainly not your typical ring-grubber. “But then you get to the point where you want to have kids,” she said. They eventually settled on a plain platinum band with bezel-set diamonds. They also bought a miniature Doberman pinscher, dubbing him Rex-“under the condition that he’d be her responsibility,” Mr. Smith said. “Of course I work from home, so I end up doing it. But that’s a relationship: It’s about an adjustment here and an adjustment there. It can’t all be lemon-chiffon ice cream!”

Alaina Philbrick and Greg Yates

Met: September 2000 Engaged: Dec. 22, 2004 Projected Wedding Date: Sept. 10, 2005

Alaina Philbrick, 34, the manager of special events for MTV Networks, is marrying Greg Yates, 30, a partner in a music-production company called Genius Entertainment, at the Candlewood Inn in Brookfield, Conn. (They both grew up in the state.) “She’s my No.1 fan,” said Mr. Yates. The celebration will feature a rock band, a steel-drum player and a harpist-not in that order, we hope. Cha-cha-cha!

When they first met through cousins at the San Gennaro festival in Little Italy, Mr. Yates was carrying a big turkey drumstick, Bam-Bam style, and a piña colada in a tacky fluorescent green receptacle. Fortunately, the latter didn’t blind her to his charms: six feet tall, hazel eyes …. “Tall, dark and handsome,” Ms. Philbrick cooed.

Mr. Yates was equally taken with this blonde’s baby-blue eyes, as well as another feature. “Her nose is petite,” he said. “Not as sharp as I Dream of Jeannie-a little more filled out. A nose that’s complementary to her face … something that doesn’t need work.” Oh, phew. “It comes to a little point.”

They sent each other flirtatious e-mails afterward-“really sexy,” Mr. Yates said-then arranged a first date at Chez Es Saada, the East Village restaurant that features rose petals and the occasional belly dancer. “I immediately felt comfortable with him,” Ms. Philbrick said. “It seemed like as soon as we were together, we were ‘together.'”

“We connected in a certain way that wasn’t physical right off the bat,” Mr. Yates said. “It was more mental and intellectual.” Yeah, but the bottom line is: You dug her schnozz!

Mr. Yates was often in the studio until 2 or 3 in the morning, so it was sometimes hard for them to see each other. Still, the relationship progressed quickly, particularly after he bravely attended a party for her grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary in Exeter, N.H., which was crawling with extended family. “I know I can throw him into a roomful of people and he’ll be fine,” Ms. Philbrick said. “He’s just so easy and laid-back. Nothing fazes him.”

Then Mr. Yates’ mother got very sick with diabetes. For two years, the young couple would head out to his parents’ house in Greenwich, Conn., every weekend. “She was my crutch, my Rock of Gibraltar,” Mr. Yates said of his bride-to-be. “She demonstrated that she would be there for me.”

After his mother died, Mr. Yates, who had been living with a roommate on the Upper East Side, moved into Ms. Philbrick’s two-bedroom on West 80th Street. A couple of months later, he quietly bought a princess-cut ring set in white gold-“like crushed ice”-from a dealer on East 48th Street.

He buttered Ms. Philbrick up with drinks at the Plaza and a carriage ride in Central Park before presenting the bling to her behind the Museum of Natural History. The blue light from the planetarium setting the couple aglow, Mr. Yates dropped to one knee-first dropping a glove to protect his pants, like a kind of doily.

“It was wet out,” he explained.

Countdown to Bliss